I’ve made no secret of the fact that I absolutely love Jaclyn Moriarty’s Brookfield/Ashbury series. I’ve also read The Spellbook of Listen Taylor, and quite enjoyed that, and have long-term intentions of eventually reading The Colors of Madeleine trilogy, and count Jaclyn Moriarty as one of my favourite authors. I also very much like her sister Liane Moriarty’s books, especially Big Little Lies. So when I realised that there’s actually a third Moriarty sister who is also an author, I obviously had to read at least one of her books as well. So when I noticed that The Fifth Letter was less than £2 on Kindle, it was an insta-buy, and I don’t regret it at all.
Four friends. Five Letters. One Secret.
The scandalous breakthrough novel from Nicola Moriarty that will leave you asking, how well do I really know my friends?
Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden.
Best friends since the first day of school. Best friends, they liked to say, forever.
But now they are in their thirties and real life – husbands, children, work – has got in the way. So, resurrecting their annual trip away, Joni has an idea, something to help them reconnect.
Each woman will write an anonymous letter, sharing with their friends the things that are really going on in their lives.
But as the confessions come tumbling out, Joni starts to feel the certainty of their decades-long friendships slip from her fingers.
Anger. Accusations. Desires. Deceit.
And then she finds another letter. One that was never supposed to be read. A fifth letter. Containing a secret so big that its writer had tried to destroy it. And now Joni is starting to wonder, did she ever really know her friends at all?
‘With secrets and intrigue, this is a compulsive read’Sun on Sunday
‘Entertaining and easy to read’Sunday Mirror
‘A darkly humorous story about friendship’ Best
The blurb to this is slightly misleading. There are four friends and five letters, but far more than one secret. Each of the four friends confesses to a secret in her letter, but then one letter writer changes her mind about her secret, and tries to destroy the letter.
Told mostly in flashbacks, with a hugely entertaining priest wondering why he’s being used as an amateur detective, Joni pours out the story of her week away with her friends and the fallout from it to this priest, as they try to figure out who the fifth letter might have been written by, and try to salvage their fragile friendship. Why she’s pouring it out to a priest and not a counsellor, detective, her husband, or friend, is actually relatively well-explained, making this plot device solid enough for me to respect it heartily, and very much appreciate it.
Honestly, my favourite character in the entire book was the priest. Perfectly timed, witty remarks and a general state of bemusement at how Joni is using his confessional only served to emphasise how bizarre and yet wonderful this was, and helped me to get just as caught up in it as the priest himself.
Four main characters, Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina, have been best friends since their first day of secondary school, at the age of eleven. Twenty years of love, marriage, kids, growth, and they’re still holidaying together, spending a week bonding (and drinking), and learning things about the women they thought they couldn’t know any more about. Each character has her own distractions, difficulties, and drama, although they intertwine in some ways, and obviously it can’t all be resolved on the week of the holiday. Stretching out a little further than that, we get to see the fallout of this disastrous week away as friendships are stretched and perhaps even broken.
Slightly over the top, with the convergence of issues at the same point in time, I let the book away with it because the framing device – of the letters confessing to secrets – was pretty solid. Well-developed and solid, I really believed the foundations of this twenty-year friendship and the secrets they hid from each other. The central mystery of who wrote the letter was one I thought I had figured out, but although I got some of the twists, and was a step ahead of Joni, the central character, I was still caught out by the ending, but in a good way.
Definitely worth the read, I very much enjoyed this tale of female friendship – and more! – and would happily pick up another Nicola Moriarty in the future.